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Whistler Nordics planning for bigger role

Olympics, Nordic Centre create new possibilities for cross-country ski club



The Whistler Nordics Cross Country Ski Club took a big step forward at a special open house meeting on Oct. 27 when participants indicated they were overwhelmingly in favour of a plan to increase the focus, visibility and membership of the club.

"We got the support we needed, and it was the decision of the people who came (to the meeting) that we should effectively re-stage our cross-country ski club, really ramp it up," said club president Tom Barratt.

"The feeling was that we need to do it, it’s an opportunity we shouldn’t let go by."

The club has been in existence since 1982, and its only two priorities for the past few decades has been the organization of the club’s annual loppet and hosting a youth Rabbits program that was expanded last year to include high school students.

It was largely because of the Rabbits program, which is geared to children aged 4-12, and the Nordic Racers program, which is geared to kids from Grade 6 to Grade 12, that the club boasted 150 members last year – a fraction of Whistler’s cross-country skiers, says Barratt.

"The interest in the sport is undeniably growing, just look at the growth of skate skiing in Lost Lake Park," he added.

"Basically we’re looking at WORCA (Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association) as a model for where we’d like the Nordics to go."

To accomplish their goals, the Whistler Nordics have established eight new committees with representatives on a board that has traditionally been limited to two or three members.

They have also established a relationship with cross-country sponsor Haywood Securities. The company has agreed to sponsor the club for $2,000 a year, plus fund the hiring of a full-time coach to work with club members and youth programs this year.

Another focus has been to form partnerships in the community, including a partnership with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.

Once the membership starts increasing, Barratt sees the club taking a larger role in the community, hosting more races and events, supporting a local development program, and acting as the cross-country ski community’s liaison with the Olympic facility in the Callaghan Valley.

"We need to be a better organized club to be in a position… to go after more funding, to host more events and get more members," said Barratt.

More events, a coaching program and a clubhouse (possibly sharing with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club) are core to the club’s goal of signing on new members. A deal with the WMSC has not been finalized, but the two clubs are in discussion about ways they could share costs.